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Articles on this Page
- 10/02/17--04:42: _U.K. scrambles to b...
- 10/02/17--09:38: _Defence seeks delay...
- 10/02/17--09:53: _Lac-Megantic disast...
- 10/02/17--03:00: _Temps on Pearson ta...
- 10/02/17--10:00: _Audio suggests Las ...
- 10/02/17--03:00: _Sammy Yatim’s mothe...
- 10/02/17--06:33: _Julie Payette becom...
- 10/02/17--10:16: _Can the new NDP lea...
- 10/02/17--06:46: _Edmonton attack sus...
- 10/02/17--09:14: _Massey College prof...
- 10/02/17--15:12: _TDSB revises Islami...
- 10/02/17--15:11: _Lawyers for cop who...
- 10/02/17--12:57: _Friends mourn victi...
- 10/02/17--18:26: _America’s gun obses...
- 10/02/17--17:31: _Council expected to...
- 10/02/17--10:15: _Two Canadian victim...
- 10/02/17--02:57: _‘You could feel the...
- 10/03/17--08:57: _U.S. gives Cuba 1 w...
- 10/02/17--12:41: _Rock superstar Tom ...
- 10/03/17--08:51: _Ontario’s correctio...
- 10/02/17--10:00: Audio suggests Las Vegas gunman may have used automatic weapon
- 10/02/17--06:33: Julie Payette becomes Canada’s 29th Governor General
- 10/02/17--12:57: Friends mourn victims of Rebel nightclub shooting
- 10/02/17--18:26: America’s gun obsession is killing them: DiManno
- The 2016 mass shooting at an Orlando, Fla., gay nightclub, 50 killed, wasn’t enough.
- The 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, 32 killed, wasn’t enough.
- The 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook, 20 six-and-seven-year-olds and six adult staff, wasn’t enough.
- San Bernardino in 2015, 14 killed, not enough.
- Fort Hood in 2009, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist shot and killed 13, not enough.
- Columbine high school in 1999, 13 killed, not enough.
- 10/02/17--17:31: Council expected to vote on backyard chickens Tuesday
- 10/02/17--10:15: Two Canadian victims mourned after Las Vegas attack
- 10/02/17--12:41: Rock superstar Tom Petty dies at 66
- 10/03/17--08:51: Ontario’s correctional system needs overhaul, report says
Monarch ceased operations after failing to reach a deal with regulators to extend the company’s license to sell package holidays to overseas destinations.
U.K. scrambles to bring home 110,000 travellers after Monarch Airlines collapses
Ali Omar Ader cannot get a fair trial in Ontario Superior Court at this point, the defence counsel says.
Defence seeks delay in Amanda Lindhout kidnapping case over information disclosure
Former train driver Thomas Harding, traffic controller Richard Labrie and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre stand accused of one count of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people and each pleaded not guilty Monday.
Lac-Megantic disaster caused by ex-railway employees’ negligence, crown argues at derailment trial
At least two temp agencies have been contracted to supply labour at one of the region’s largest employers.
Temps on Pearson tarmac raise safety, security concerns, critics warn
Weapons capable of automatic fire have long been federally regulated in the United States and are much more difficult to obtain than conventional rifles. Las Vegas police have not yet offered details on the weapons used in the massacre.
Audio suggests Las Vegas gunman may have used automatic weapon
Four years after he was killed on a Toronto streetcar, and with an appeal hearing set to begin for the police officer who shot him, Sahar Bahadi says she doesn’t want her son to be defined by the way he died.
OTTAWA— Upon taking an oath and becoming Canada’s 29th Governor-General, Julie Payette made an impassioned appeal for Canadians to tackle "serious and pressing global issues like climate change, migration, nuclear proliferation, poverty and population growth."
Payette spoke to more than 400 invited guests and dignitaries in the senate’s red-carpeted chamber, delivering a notes-free and at times quirky address that echoed many of the Liberal government’s favourite themes.
She hailed “diversity” as Canada’s strength, the value of science and evidence-based decision making, and the need to reconcile with Indigenous peoples who she said were the original pioneers and “opened the way, showed us the way.”
“It is a good thing we finally decided to listen again to their wisdom,” said the 53-year-old Payette. Twice in the 21-minute address, Canada’s new Governor General addressed Algonquin elder Claudette Commanda, along with other Indigenous leaders at the installation, in a native language.
“We have to achieve reconciliation for the well-being of our communities and for our children,” she said.
She said there were many eminent scientists, aviators and “high-flyers” in the room and “they would tell you we are all inextricably bound by a part of the same space-time continuum, and sorry, but we’re all onboard the same planetary spaceship, but together we can move mountains.”
“With our brains and our smarts and our altruistic capability we can do a lot of good…to diminish the gap and inequities that are found here and elsewhere.”
Payette, the second Canadian woman to go into outer space and the first Canadian to work aboard the International Space Station, spoke of her own journey to the vice-regal office as an unlikely one.
She said she wasn’t expecting the prime minister’s call to become governor-general, and her 14-year-old son Laurier gave her “permission” to accept the appointment.
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who hailed her hard work, discipline and “most importantly, your passion,” said she was a natural for the job.
“Whether as Canada’s chief astronaut or as an Olympic flag bearer you represent the very best of what it means to be Canadian, to serve Canada with aplomb and integrity.”
Hours before, Payette’s story was told in a newly-unveiled Coat of Arms that portrays ambition, whimsy, and a musical flair.
Canada’s heraldic authority designed the crest to capture what it saw as the essence of Payette, an engineer, former astronaut, mother and Baroque music lover.
Flanked by two standing Canada lynx standing atop a blue borderless planet, the badge depicts an open wing, next to a crown, topped by an astronaut’s helmet, a musical bar, and the motto “Per Aspera Ad Astra” which means “Through hardship to the stars.”
It’s a motto used by Payette and fellow astronauts, according to an explanation provided by the Canada Heraldry Office, which researched Payette’s background and drew on it for inspiration.
The two lynx in the crest wear collars of laurel or bay leaves — “laurier” in French — a nod to her son Laurier.
The open wing is meant to symbolize exploration and liberty and embody “our desire to reach higher and expand our horizons,” says the website.
Payette approved the design, said Claire Boudreau, chief herald of Canada, who said she was also inspired by a badge designed by a Quebec artist for Payette when she flew her first mission into space.
“I thought that this was very interesting that, already in her past, she had had the occasion to see herself in a design and to describe what is important to her,” said Boudreau in an interview posted by Rideau Hall Monday.
The choice of lynx was Boudreau’s. She said the felines represent what she saw when she looked at photos of Payette interacting with people.
“The way she looks at people she has this strength and direct connection. The animal that came into my mind…was the Canadian lynx. For me this animal is a feline, but it has a way to look at its environment but it’s discreet at the same time.”
Payette, 53, replaces David Johnston, 76. Johnston was appointed by former prime minister Stephen Harper.
Johnston and his wife Sharon served in the governor-general’s office for seven years, beyond the usual five-year term.
Payette arrived on Parliament Hill at mid-morning on Monday, the start of a day filled with pomp and circumstance.
She was greeted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Indigenous leaders from the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Métis National Council.
At an installation ceremony in the Senate chamber she swore three oaths of office administered by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who holds the office of deputy governor-general.
Payette selected the music for the program. A Tafelmusik baroque ensemble — Payette was once a member of the orchestra and choir — played Mozart’s Divertimento.
Payette chose Joannie Benoit and Mélissa Bédard, who became widely known during the 2012 season of Star Academy, to sing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
Payette sprang a surprise on those who attended, inviting Quebec’s Ginette Reno to sing the national anthem — a performance that Payette greeted with a standing ovation, as did the entire audience of Supreme Court judges, MPs, senators, former prime minister Jean Chretien, and Payette’s predecessors David Johnston and Adrienne Clarkson.
A 21-gun salute fired by the 30th Field Regiment and a flypast by CF-18 aircraft marked her departure from the Parliament Hill ceremony, as she headed to the National War Memorial.
Julie Payette becomes Canada’s 29th Governor General
OTTAWA—The task ahead is undeniably formidable. A rookie on the federal scene, who does not hold a seat in Parliament and is untested with the reins of partisan leadership, has embarked on a quest to bring New Democrats to power in Ottawa for the first time in Canadian history.
Not only that — he’s up against a self-avowed progressive prime minister who preaches taxes on the rich and the urgent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, who may not have changed the voting system but is legalizing marijuana.
Can Jagmeet Singh, the NDP’s fresh new leader, fight Justin Trudeau for the left half of the political spectrum — and win?
For David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, Singh, who’s 38, represents a solid threat to Trudeau and his Liberal majority. Singh’s youthful mode of speech, adherence to left-wing orthodoxy on most issues, and his proven ability to generate buzz could make him a contender for a wide demographic of voters who flocked to the Liberals under Trudeau in 2015, Coletto said.
“When you think of the voters that both of these parties really need to do well, and that’s younger voters, I think Jagmeet Singh has the opportunity to really compete,” Coletto said.
“I look at him as someone who is probably going to be the greatest threat to the Liberals and that coalition they’ve put together that was anchored by millennials.”
Of course, actually drawing them into the NDP isn’t going to be automatic. But a key part of Singh’s pitch to New Democrats throughout the leadership campaign was his promise to widen the appeal of the party into corners of Canada where it has not traditionally succeeded.
His own electoral story is a testament to this. Singh is quick to point out that he started his political career by winning a seat in Brampton, a suburban city outside Toronto where the NDP had long been an afterthought.
His leadership campaign also claimed to have signed up 47,000 new members during the race. That means more than a third of the total NDP membership was brought in by Singh after he entered the leadership contest in May.
“Look at what we’ve been able to accomplish in a few short months,” Singh said Sunday during his victory speech. “Now imagine what we can build together, all of us together, in two years.”
Many observers have pointed out that the social democratic party is in debt and well-behind the Liberals and Conservatives in fundraising this year (the NDP raised less than $1.8 million in the first half of 2017, while the Liberals raked in almost $6 million and the Tories received more than $8 million, according to Elections Canada).
Brad Lavigne, a long-time NDP insider who spearheaded the 2011 “Orange Wave” campaign under Jack Layton, said the new leader has proven he can pull in donors and supporters. He said he’s confident the party will unite behind Singh as they pivot toward the next election.
“Looking at Jagmeet’s organizational capacity in this leadership alone, I know that we’re going to be ready to go for 2019,” said Lavigne, who supported Singh during the leadership race.
Money aside, the biggest battleground for that coming challenge will be fighting for votes with the Liberals, Coletto said.
Singh laid the groundwork for his assault on this front Sunday, when he accused the Trudeau government of essentially lying to Canadians about their intention to run a progressive regime in Ottawa.
Singh told the Star that it will be “easy” to paint this picture for Canadians, pointing to perceived government failures on Indigenous reconciliation, electoral reform, climate change, housing policy and more.
Coletto’s firm, Abacus Data, released a study in August that asked 2,000 Canadians a series of questions about how they perceive the major political parties. It found that most Canadians associate the Liberals and the NDP with similar values, including “cares about the environment,” “treat men and women equally” and “proud of Canada.”
The overlap in perception means differentiating his party from the Liberals will be a top job for Singh — the first leader of a major federal party who is not white — as he takes over the NDP, Coletto said.
And on this score, Singh is already pointing to his desire for more aggressive cuts to greenhouse gas emissions (he wants to hit the Liberals’ target five years quicker, by 2025). The former defence lawyer is also talking about “fundamental” changes to the justice system. This includes his proposed federal ban on racial profiling — ostensibly aimed at the RCMP to prevent racial discrimination by police — and his call to decriminalize all drugs.
“If you look at people who are criminalized for personal possession . . . these are people who are often faced with mental health issues, addictions and are poor,” he told the Star on Sunday.
“Our current strategy is not working. It’s not reducing harm. It’s not actually helping people out,” he continued, adding that he would like a system similar to Portugal’s, where resources are devoted to rehabilitation and treatment rather than law enforcement for possession convictions.
He slammed the Liberals for not decriminalizing marijuana as they prepare to legalize the drug next summer, hinting that this is another policy where he’ll be different — and more left-leaning — than Trudeau in the next election.
It’s impossible to say how that will play out. In Coletto’s mind, at the very least, Singh presents an undeniable shift in style and leadership for New Democrats.
“I’m not going to make normative statements about whether he is cooler (than the other leadership candidates) or not, but I think you can easily say that Jagmeet Singh is cooler than Tom Mulcair, on most objective measures,” he said.
Now it’s time to see how he matches up with Trudeau.
Can the new NDP leader Jagmeet Singh resonate with millennials — and become our next PM?
EDMONTON—A suspect has been charged in an attack which saw an Edmonton officer stabbed and four people injured when they were hit by a rental truck fleeing police.
Abdulahi Hasan Sharif faces five counts of attempted murder, four counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and one weapons-related charge.
Although police have said that terrorism charges are expected, none has been laid so far.
Sharif, who is 30, is a Somali refugee once investigated for allegedly espousing extremism.
He is scheduled for a bail hearing in provincial court on Tuesday morning.
Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht has said the events of Saturday night appear to have been the work of a single person.
It started when a police officer handling crowd control at a Canadian Football League game at Commonwealth Stadium, just northeast of downtown, was hit by a speeding white Chevy Malibu that rammed through a barrier and sent him flying five metres through the air.
The driver got out, pulled out a large knife and began stabbing Const. Mike Chernyk, a 10-year veteran, as he was lying on the ground. Chernyk fought back and the suspect fled on foot.
“He was in a struggle for his life, holding onto his gun with one hand and blocking the knife with his other,” Knecht said Sunday. “It’s a testament to his experience and training that he survived.”
Chernyk is out of hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. He has stab wounds on his face and head and abrasions on his arms.
Hours after the initial attack, a man driving a U-Haul cube van that police pulled over at a checkpoint produced identification linking him to the registered owner of the white Malibu.
Becoming suspicious when police held him up, the driver sped off toward Jasper Avenue, downtown Edmonton’s main east-west thoroughfare, with multiple police cars in pursuit.
Knecht said the suspect almost T-boned a vehicle and purposely drove into pedestrians, injuring four of them. Two suffered head injuries including a skull fracture. Two had been released from hospital as of Sunday afternoon.
Knecht said officers used a “tactical manoeuvre” to force the truck to crash onto its side just south of Jasper Avenue and the suspect was arrested.
“No shots were fired. In fact, no shots were fired anywhere in this entire incident,” said Knecht.
RCMP assistant commissioner Marlin Degrand said Sunday the suspect was checked thoroughly in 2015 after police received a report that he may have been radicalized. Investigators determined at that time that he did not pose a threat.
Degrand said files on the suspect were kept and shared with other intelligence and police agencies after 2015, but that was as much as the law would allow.
Edmonton attack suspect charged with attempted murder, terrorism charges expected: police
A professor who commented about the “master” of Massey College to a Black student has stepped down as a senior fellow at the school.
Michael Marrus resigned his fellowship Sunday after nearly 200 students and faculty signed a petition demanding that he be removed.
“First, I am so sorry for what I said, in a poor effort at jocular humour at lunch last Tuesday,” Marrus wrote in his resignation letter to college head Hugh Segal.
“What I said was both foolish and, I understood immediately, hurtful, and I want, first and foremost, to convey my deepest regrets all whom I may have harmed.”
On Tuesday Marrus was sitting with three junior fellows — graduate students who earned residence at Massey College through academic and extracurricular achievements — when Segal asked to join them. At the time, Segal’s title was “master” of the college.
Marrus allegedly said to a Black graduate student: “You know this is your master, eh? Do you feel the lash?”
The comment, which was widely viewed as a reference to slavery, prompted an open letter to Segal on Wednesday demanding Marrus’s resignation and additional changes to deal with the incident.
On Friday, Massey College agreed to almost all the demands made in the petition. The college temporarily suspended the title of “master,” promised anti-racism training and apologized for the incident.
In accepting Marrus’s resignation, Segal wrote, “To say that I regret the event that created the need for your letter would be a serious understatement.”
Marrus is retired from the University of Toronto but has maintained an office and senior fellowship at Massey College, which is an affiliated independent college at U of T.
Massey College professor resigns over ‘master’ comment to Black student
The Toronto District School Board said it will change portions of a guidebook that uses a definition of Islamophobia that a Jewish community group has called “overly broad.”
The guidebook defines Islamophobia, in part, as “fear, prejudice, hatred or dislike directed against Islam or Muslims, or towards Islamic politics or culture.” B’nai Brith Canada had complained earlier Monday that the reference to “politics” could lead to students or staff being punished for expressing dislike for the Republic of Iran’s persecution of LGBTQ people or restrictions placed on women in Saudi Arabia.
Hours later, TDSB chairperson Robin Pilkey said in a letter to the group that the updated guide will reflect the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s definition of Islamophobia, which makes no reference to politics.
Pilkey said the guide was not enforceable as policy and denied it would have led to silencing of staff or students.
“The TDSB welcomes important input from the community and from organizations such as B’nai Brith, however we must say that some of the suggestions made in your letter and subsequent news release are outrageous,” she said in the letter. “To suggest that the TDSB is encouraging students to stay silent about what they experienced in their countries of birth or that the TDSB is somehow banning students and educators from criticizing executions and other human rights abuses around the world is categorically untrue.”
The Toronto District School Board created the guide to be used in public schools in October, which it declared Islamic Heritage Month. The Toronto District School Board also celebrates Sikh Heritage Month in April and Jewish Heritage Month in May annually.
B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said a school board representative told the group the definition was included in the guidebook “in error.”
“We thank the TDSB for acting swiftly to correct this serious problem,” he said in a statement. “The definition of Islamophobia initially presented by the TDSB was clearly inappropriate, and we look forward to seeing a proper definition presented to Toronto students.”
TDSB revises Islamic guide after Jewish group finds definition of Islamophobia ‘overly broad’
The nine bullets Toronto police officer James Forcillo fired at Sammy Yatim were part of the same ongoing shooting and should not have been separated into two distinct occurrences at the officer’s criminal trial, lawyers for the convicted cop argued at the Ontario Court of Appeal on Monday.
More than four years after Forcillo fatally shot Yatim, 18, on a Toronto streetcar, Ontario's highest court heard the suspended officer’s appeal of his conviction and his six-year jail sentence.
Central to the appeal is the fact that Forcillo, who was not in court Monday, fired his police-issued Glock at Yatim in two discreet volleys, separated by about five and a half seconds.
Last year, the jury at his trial found the officer not guilty of second-degree murder in connection to the first volley of three shots, during which the fatal shot was fired. But Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder for the second round of six bullets, fired as Yatim was on the floor of the streetcar, paralyzed and dying.
Before a panel of Chief Justice of Ontario George Strathy, Justice David Doherty and Justice Gary Trotter, Forcillo’s lawyers stressed the uniqueness of the case, and what they have called the “illogical” finding that he was convicted of attempting to kill someone who he lawfully killed just seconds before.
“This scenario, I think is fair to say, has never arisen before,” said Michael Lacy, one of Forcillo's lawyers.
“It's (Forcillo's) submission that what came to be known as the two volleys of shots were so inextricably intertwined that they formed part of a single continuous transaction” Lacy said.
The officer, who is suspended without pay from the Toronto police force, is seeking an acquittal or a new trial. His lawyers have also argued the sentence handed down by trial judge Justice Edward Then was severe and that if the conviction is upheld, Forcillo should serve a suspended sentence.
Forcillo’s six-year sentence is one year longer than the mandatory minimum of five years jail time for attempted murder with a firearm, something the officer’s lawyers say violates the charter.
The mandatory minimum sentence for attempted murder with a firearm was never meant to deal with a case like Forcillo’s, but rather to crack down on mounting gun violence by the “criminal element,” his lawyers said.
“The clear purpose of that legislation was to target people who make decisions to pick up firearms,” Lacy said, whereas Forcillo was “armed as a result of his employment.”
Forcillo’s lawyers also detailed what they said were the detrimental effects of being prevented from providing the jury with evidence that would have raised the question of whether Yatim was committing suicide-by-cop.
That evidence included text messages, expert testimony and a Google search Yatim made that provided insight into Yatim’s state of mind, said lawyer Joseph Wilkinson.
In that Google search Yatim had asked “how to commit suicide without feeling any pain,” and Wilkinson said the officer’s defence lawyers should have been able to present the jury with evidence about the suicide-by-cop phenomenon to “lend a different perspective.”
Wilkinson argued that this perspective was important to counterbalance what he said was the Crown's frequent characterization of Yatim as a “person in crisis.”
Late Monday, Crown lawyer Susan Reid began her arguments in response to the appeal, stressing that the acquittal on second-degree murder but the conviction on attempted murder are not inconsistent.
“The defences are different and the circumstances were different,” she said.
Sahar Bahadi, Sammy Yatim’s mother, attended the appeal Monday, saying before it began that she believes Forcillo’s conviction will be upheld.
“I still believe in God. I still believe in justice. I think that (his conviction will be upheld) and he will go to jail,” she told the Star in an interview last week.
The appeal continues Tuesday.
Lawyers for cop who shot Sammy Yatim argue nine shots were 'single' occurrence
Friends are in shock after two Toronto men in their 20s were shot dead at Rebel nightclub early Sunday.
Police did not immediately name the two men, but friends identified them as Tyler McLean, 25, and Amir Jamal, 26.
“Tyler was such a friendly guy. Nobody could ever be mad at him and he had a lot of friends in this city who are shocked at this,” said McLean’s friend Adam Mahgoub, who confirmed that McLean and Jamal were friends.
McLean was a promoter for the nightclub and had been working there the night he and Jamal were shot in the parking lot near Polson and Cherry Sts. around 3:10 a.m.
A friend has setup a Gofundme campaign to help Jamal’s family ship his body back to Afghanistan, where he emigrated from six years ago. According to the page, Jamal was working long hours in Toronto and sending money back to Afghanistan to support his family.
“To everybody that knew Amir, he was the most genuine and kind person,” the Gofundme page said. “He was loving, caring and generous with every single person that he met.”
According to Jamal’s Facebook page, he had studied at York University.
Police said there was an altercation that led to the shooting. A black vehicle was seen speeding away from the scene and last observed heading north on the Don Valley Parkway.
No suspects have been identified.
Adnan Farhoud, who also works at the nightclub, said he left about 20 minutes before the shooting. He said McLean was smiling and having a good time, like always.
“He wasn’t even supposed to come in that night because he just came back the day before from vacation,” Farhoud said.
Earlier this month, McLean posted Instagram pictures of himself in Peru.
Mahgoub, who owns an events company, trained McLean as a promoter about three years ago and kept in touch.
“He was very well respected, very well liked,” he said. “Tyler had a huge future.”
Friends mourn victims of Rebel nightclub shooting
In the long night of its soul, America must finally repudiate its rapture with guns.
The obsession is killing them.
In ones and twos and massacres.
By deranged individuals, the lone wolf — lone hyena — outlier with a grudge and an automatic rifle. Or 17 of them: The number of weapons, police say, that Stephen Paddock, a former accountant, had in his room at the Mandalay Hotel in Las Vegas, strafing from different windows upon a large happy crowd enjoying a country music concert below, the shooter darting from one vantage point to another, apparently never needing to stop and reload.
It appears to have been that methodically planned and indiscriminately executed.
Another stockpile of 18 firearms later discovered at Paddock’s home in a quiet retirement community about 110 kilometres from the raucous Strip.
Far less often, such mayhem in the United States has been inflicted by radicalized cells. That’s terrorism — at its stony heart, violence wrought for a political purpose. A legal definition for domestic terrorism when there’s someone to actually prosecute.
But what unfolded in Vegas late Sunday night certainly feels like terrorism — at least 59 killed and upwards of 530 wounded in one of the deadliest mass murders in American history. Some 22,000 people fleeing, trampling over each other in the pandemonium, diving for cover behind bleachers in what must have felt like an eternity in that less than five-minute barrage of gunfire.
No motive for the carnage has been identified.
“We’re lost,” Paddock’s brother, Eric Hudson Paddock, told reporters in Orlando on Monday, in utter disbelief. “I don’t understand. The fact that he had those kinds of weapons . . . where the hell did he get automatic weapons? He has no military background or anything like that. He’s a guy who lived in a house in Mesquite, drove down to gamble in Vegas.”
How did this 64-year-old retired accountant, son of a bank robber who was once on the FBI most wanted list, manage to get an arsenal of 16 weapons through the rigorous security of a Vegas resort? He checked in on Sept. 28. Do not disturb?
The why of it is, at this point, unknown and probably will still be unfathomable if ever deduced. “Steve had nothing to do with any political organization,” his brother insisted. “No white supremacists or nothing, as far as I know.”
Paddock may have selected the event to go down in a blaze of demented glory — the Route 91 Harvest Festival — but he certainly didn’t target anyone in particular, firing randomly into the revellers, like shooting fish in a barrel.
More would have been slain had the SWAT squad not so quickly determined precisely where the gunfire was coming from.
And that is knowledge which they possibly will not have, in the future — because there will assuredly be another time, another slaughter — if a Republican bill before the House is passed, as expected. The benign-sounding Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE), includes provisions that will abbreviate the costly background checks currently required to buy suppressors — popularly referred to as “silencers.”
To shoot — and kill — more quietly, more clandestinely. A pet project of Rep. Jeff Duncan, a Republican from South Carolina, allegedly intended to protect hunters from hearing loss. State and local taxes and registration on these devices would also be nullified.
Debate on the legislation was halted on the day that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was gravely wounded in a shooting at a congressional baseball game in June. But it resumed last month, passed out of a House committee and was expected to win full House approval as early as this very week.
Despite all the warnings from anti-gun proponents aghast over the potential consequences.
“Law enforcement and military experts have told the American people and Congress they oppose the bill, and that there are very effective hearing protection devices available on the open market,” Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement after the bill passed at Committee.
“Keeping guns out of dangerous hands and stopping school shootings, ambushes of police and other mass shootings before they can start is the priority for the American people — not making it harder to detect a shooting once it starts.”
Yet too many Americans, in distorted thrall to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — the right to bear arms as precious as the air they breathe — will not be weaned off their love of guns, though surely this is not what the authors had in mind for a “well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State.”
Politicians who go up against the National Rifle Association do so at their own peril. So far in 2017 alone, the NRA lobby has pumped some $3,200,000 into anti-gun measures, no matter how modest the restrictions.
When will ordinary Americans say enough is enough?
On and on and on. While we all passively accept severe curtailment of liberties to thwart international terrorism.
It seems Americans, for all their grieving and consoling, are nevertheless prepared to accept increasing levels of horror, regardless of a shooter’s motivation. As if this is just the way it is. And every atrocity numbs rather than enrages.
Not take away the guns, not make it harder to get guns, but gimme a gun.
It is an obscene American pathology.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
America’s gun obsession is killing them: DiManno
The chickens aren’t coming home to roost in Toronto backyards just yet.
On Monday night, council deferred a vote on a pilot project that would allow Toronto residents in some neighborhoods to keep up to four chickens in their backyards.
The proposed pilot would operate in Wards 5, 13, 21 and 32 for a period of up to three years with an interim review at 18 months. Backyard chickens would not be allowed in apartment buildings, condominiums or properties without sufficient outdoor space.
Eggs produced by the hens could not be sold and roosters would not be allowed in a henhouse because of the noise they make, according to the motion before council. Participants in the program would have to register and agree to regular inspections.
Council is expected to vote on the pilot project Tuesday, the second day of fall’s first session.
Council also delayed voting on a staff report adding additional animals – including cranes, flamingos and penguins, to the city’s prohibited animal list.
Also, council is expected Tuesday to consider changing the bylaw that currently allows for exemptions to the city’s prohibited animals list – when used for educational purposes.
City staff recommended ending the exemption over concerns about the proliferation of exotic animals at birthday parties and other circumstances that were not “educational.” It would take effect Jan. 1, 2018.
City staff did not recommend removing chickens from the prohibited animal list. But public consultations earlier this year triggered a proposal to ask council to consider removing them from the list and launching a pilot project.
During Monday night’s debate, councillors used the occasion to joke, cluck and at one point played an audio clip ostensibly of henhouse noise.
“I was wondering if Colonel Sanders has been…consulted,” joked Councillor Jim Karygiannis while questioning Tracey Cook, executive director of municipal licensing and standards.
“He was certainly welcome to answer our public survey, sir, if he was so inclined,” Cook deadpanned.
Councillor Stephen Holyday, firmly in the no-chicken-in-my-backyard-camp, wondered “where does the line get drawn” if the city removes chickens from the prohibited animal list. “Where do we stop? Can I have a cow? I like milk,” Holyday stated.
Some councillors raised concerns about what might happen to unwanted chickens. “I will say we have had occasions where little pot bellied pigs have been dropped off at animal services,” Cook responded.
Councillor Justin Di Ciano, a proponent of the pilot project, said he was tired of the “fear mongering,” adding his father has backyard chickens.
Di Ciano also noted while many other jurisdictions, including Vancouver, Montreal, New York and Brampton, allow residents to keep a few hens, there has been no “massive…public health issue created by backyard chickens.”
Cook told council there have been some examples of Salmonella outbreaks tied to backyard hen flocks “but nothing significant.”
Council expected to vote on backyard chickens Tuesday
Two Canadian families are grieving today.
In a Sunday night attack on the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Nevada, B.C. native Jordan McIldoon and Albertan Jessica Klymchuk lost their lives. Klymchuk’s death was confirmed by her home province’s premier Rachel Notley; McIldoon’s, by a relative.
Klymchuk was the mother of four children, and was in Nevada with her fiancé when she was killed. Friend Candace Nicole described her as a “gorgeous human being,” and said Klymchuk’s kids were her entire life.
“She had the biggest heart and she always wore the sweetest smile. Her kids were her entire life and her family and friends meant the world,” Nicole said.
McIldoon would have turned 24 on Friday, and was only a month shy of finishing his training as a heavy-duty mechanic. In a Facebook posting, Heather Gooze of Las Vegas said she was outside the festival grounds on Sunday.
“I am with a young man who died in my arms! RIP Jordan McIldoon from British Columbia,” Gooze wrote.
Her account could not immediately be verified.
As news of both deaths hit airwaves and grief rippled north of the border, another Canadian couple — still cooped up in Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay hotel — peered outside at a broken window two floors below.
There, a drape blew out from the fractured glass, into the morning wind.
It’s the spot where 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire Sunday night, killing at least 58 people and injuring 500 before ending his own life. Less than 24 hours later, it’s being called one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
“There’s debris everywhere,” Lindsay Sherk — who travelled from Ottawa for the festival — said over the phone, looking out the window. She watched as investigators paced the now-empty venue, a ghostly scene strewn with abandoned lawn chairs and scattered personal belongings.
The night before, Canadian filmmaker Jode Kechego also watched the scene from above. But standing on the roof of the hotel, as police helicopters began circling above, he was struck by fear that authorities could mistake him for the shooter.
“I have a big tripod, I’m on the ledge of the roof,” Kechego, a member of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, told the Star. He’d been making a time-lapse video of the crowd, when a security guard rushed up to him and asked if he knew what had just happened.
“As soon as he said that, we heard the gunshots,” he said.
From his viewpoint, Kechego could see the crowd splinter. He heard several rounds of quick firing, with brief pauses in between, before a series of slower single shots that sounded like they came from another direction.
The security guard told him they needed to evacuate. As he was packing up his equipment, he saw a light shine on the roof: it was from the helicopters.
Kechego immediately became nervous. “There’s a shooting where nobody knows where it’s coming from, the helicopter has a spotlight on me, and I’m a guy with a backpack and a big black case,” he said.
“That did not look good.”
But he made it inside the hotel, aided by security. Along with around 80 people, Kechego spent the night in the bar of a restaurant on the top floor. No one got much sleep, and they didn’t leave until 7:30 a.m.
In the eye of the night’s chaos, another Canadian chose to reach for home. 24-year-old Quinn Mell-Cobb called his mom as he ran from the scene.
He and his girlfriend Madison Milford were among dozens of Canadians in the crowd, who ran from the stage as the bullets sprayed down. The crowd sought refuge, banging on the hoods of swerving cars as they tried to cross Tropicana Blvd. As they ran, he dialed a familiar Vancouver number.
His mom’s voice came through the other side.
“[I] told her what was going on and that I wasn't sure if we would be OK,” Mell-Cobb wrote in a Facebook message to the Star. He expected his mom to panic; she’d always been the kind to worry, no matter what the situation was.
But from the other side of the border, she offered solace.
“She was an immense help and calmly talked us through everything, the whole way right up to arriving at our room,” Mell-Cobb wrote. His heart was pulled at one point when Milford stumbled; he thought she’d been shot.
“It’s the most terrifying thing you could ever imagine,” he wrote.
But they made their way back to the MGM Grand Hotel, up to the 20th floor, where they stayed hunkered down for hours. His brother joined his mom on the phone, giving updates as more information emerged.
Throughout the night marked by chaos, there was a lot of “true heroism” in the night, Mell-Cobb told the Star.
“I saw men carrying kids and women out, others knocking down barricades, just stuff like that,” he wrote. “Restores your faith in humanity despite having it come from such a heinous act.”
With files from Metro Vancouver and the Canadian Press
Two Canadian victims mourned after Las Vegas attack
LAS VEGAS—The rapid-fire popping sounded like firecrackers at first, and many in the crowd of 22,000 country music fans didn’t understand what was happening when the band stopped playing and singer Jason Aldean bolted off the stage.
“That’s gunshots,” a man could be heard saying emphatically on a cellphone video in the nearly half-minute of silence and confusion that followed. A woman pleaded with others: “Get down! Get down! Stay down!”
Then the pop-pop-pop noise resumed. And pure terror set in.
“People start screaming and yelling and we start running,” said Andrew Akiyoshi, who provided the cellphone video to The Associated Press. “You could feel the panic. You could feel like the bullets were flying above us. Everybody’s ducking down, running low to the ground.”
While some concertgoers hit the ground, others pushed for the crowded exits, shoving through narrow gates and climbing over fences as 40- to 50-round bursts of automatic weapons fire rained down on them from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino hotel.
By Monday afternoon, 59 people were dead – including two Canadians— and 527 wounded in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Jessica Klymchuk, of Valleyview, Alta., and Jordan McIldoon, 23, of Maple Ridge, B.C., were among the 59 people who died in the horrific attack that also left more than 500 others injured, including an unknown number of Canadians.
Klymchuk was an educational assistant, librarian and bus driver for St. Stephen’s School, said the Holy Family Catholic Regional Division.
McIldoon would have turned 24 on Friday and was a month shy of completing a course to qualify as a heavy-duty mechanic. His parents travelled to Nevada on Monday to retrieve his body, the relative said.
“You just didn’t know what to do,” Akiyoshi said. “Your heart is racing and you’re thinking, ‘I’m going to die.’”
The gunman, identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant from Mesquite, Nevada, killed himself before officers stormed Room 135 in the gold-colored glass skyscraper.
The avid gambler who according to his brother made a small fortune investing in real estate had been staying there since Thursday and had busted out windows to create his sniper’s perch roughly 500 yards from the concert grounds.
The motive for the attack remained a mystery, with Sheriff Joseph Lombardo saying: “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath at this point.”
Paddock had 23 guns in his hotel room, Lombardo said. Two were modified to make them fully automatic, according to two U.S. officials briefed by law enforcement who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still unfolding.
At Paddock’s home, authorities found 19 more guns, explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Also, several pounds of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be turned into explosives such as those used in the 1995 Oklahoma bombing, were in his car, the sheriff said.
The FBI said it found nothing so far to suggest the attack was connected to international terrorism, despite a claim of responsibility from Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which said Paddock was a “soldier” who had recently converted to Islam.
In an address to the country, President Donald Trump called the bloodbath “an act of pure evil” and added: “In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one. And it always has.” He ordered flags flown at half-staff.
With hospitals jammed with victims, authorities put out a call for blood donations and set up a hotline to report missing people and speed the identification of the dead and wounded. They also opened a “family reunification centre” for people to find loved ones.
Another Canadian recovering in hospital is Sheldon Mack of Victoria.
“Sustained 2 gunshot wounds, a ruptured colon, and a broken forearm,” Mack tweeted from his hospital bed.
“My friend used his belt as a tourniquet and cut of the blood, but it all happened crazy fast — it seems not real,” he said.
A fundraising campaign has been started to help another Canadian injured in Sunday’s shooting.
According to a GoFundMe page, Ryan Sarrazin of Camrose, Alta., was “seriously injured” after being shot at the concert.
“This fund is to assist medical and travel expenses for Ryan and his family,” said Tamara Johnson, who started the page.
The fundraiser for Sarrazin, who is originally from Spiritwood, Sask., had raised nearly half of its $50,000 goal by Monday night.
More than 12 hours after the massacre, bodies covered in white sheets were still being removed from the festival grounds.
The shooting began at 10:07 p.m., and the gunman appeared to fire unhindered for more than 10 minutes, according to radio traffic. Police frantically tried to locate him and determine whether the gunfire was coming from Mandalay Bay or the neighbouring Luxor hotel.
At 10:14 p.m., an officer said on his radio that he was pinned down against a wall on Las Vegas Boulevard with 40 to 50 people.
“We can’t worry about the victims,” an officer said at 10:15 p.m. “We need to stop the shooter before we have more victims. Anybody have eyes on him ... stop the shooter.”
Near the stage, Dylan Schneider, a country singer who performed earlier in the day, huddled with others under the VIP bleachers, where he turned to his manager and asked, “Dude, what do we do?” He said he repeated the question again and again over the next five minutes.
Bodies were lying on the artificial turf installed in front of the stage, and people were screaming and crying. The sound of people running on the bleachers added to the confusion, and Schneider thought the concert was being invaded with multiple shooters.
“No one knew what to do,” Schneider said. “It’s literally running for your life and you don’t know what decision is the right one. But like I said, I knew we had to get out of there.”
He eventually pushed his way out of the crowd and found refuge in the nearby Tropicana hotel-casino, where he kicked in a door to an engineering room and spent hours there with others who followed him.
The shooting started as Aldean closed out the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival. He had just begun the song “When She Says Baby,” and the first burst of nearly 50 shots crackled as he sang, “It’s tough just getting up.”
Muzzle flashes could be seen in the dark as the gunman fired away.
“It was the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” said Kodiak Yazzie, 36. “You could hear that the noise was coming from west of us, from Mandalay Bay. You could see a flash, flash, flash, flash.”
The crowd, funneled tightly into a wide-open space, had little cover and no easy way to escape. Victims fell to the ground, while others fled in panic. Some hid behind concession stands or crawled under parked cars.
Faces were etched with shock and confusion, and people wept and screamed.
Tales of heroism and compassion emerged quickly: Couples held hands as they ran through the dirt lot. Some of the bleeding were carried out by fellow concertgoers. While dozens of ambulances took away the wounded, while some people loaded victims into their cars and drove them to the hospital. People fleeing the concert grounds hitched rides with strangers, piling into cars and trucks.
Some of the injured were hit by shrapnel. Others were trampled or were injured jumping fences.
The dead included at least three off-duty police officers from various departments who were attending the concert, authorities said. Two on-duty officers were wounded, one critically, police said.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said the attack was the work of a “crazed lunatic full of hate.”
The sheriff said authorities believe Paddock acted alone. While Paddock appeared to have no criminal history, his father was a bank robber who was on the FBI’s most-wanted list in the 1960s.
As for why Paddock went on the murderous rampage, his brother in Florida, Eric Paddock, told reporters: “I can’t even make something up. There’s just nothing.”
Hours after the shooting, Aldean posted on Instagram that he and his crew were safe and that the shooting was “beyond horrific.”
“It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night,” the country star said.
Before Sunday, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history took place in June 2016, when a gunman who professed support for Muslim extremist groups opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people.
A suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killed 22 people in May. Almost 90 people were killed in 2015 at a concert in Paris by gunmen inspired by Daesh.
‘You could feel the panic’: Two Canadians among 59 killed in deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history‘You could feel the panic’: Two Canadians among 59 killed in deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history
WASHINGTON—The United States expelled 15 of Cuba’s diplomats Tuesday to protest its failure to protect Americans from unexplained attacks in Havana, plunging diplomatic ties between the countries to levels unseen in years.
Only days ago, the U.S. and Cuba maintained dozens of diplomats in newly re-opened embassies in Havana and Washington, powerful symbols of a warming relationship between longtime foes. Now both countries are poised to cut their embassies by more than half, as invisible, unexplained attacks threaten delicate ties between the Cold War rivals.
The U.S. State Department gave Cuba’s ambassador a list Tuesday of 15 names and ordered them out within one week, officials said, in a move that aims to “ensure equity” between each nation’s embassy staffing. The U.S. announced earlier it was withdrawing 60 per cent of its own diplomats from Havana because they might be attacked and harmed if they stay.
The dual moves marked a sharp escalation in the U.S. response to attacks that began nearly a year ago and yet remain unexplained despite harming at least 22 Americans — including a new victim identified this week.
Still, U.S. officials emphasized they were not accusing Cuba of either culpability or complicity, merely a failure to stop whatever is happening to Americans working out of the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
Investigators continue exploring the possibility of a “sonic attack” harming diplomats through sound waves, but have discovered no device and identified no culprit.
“We continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, and will continue to co-operate with Cuba as we pursue the investigation into these attacks,” said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Cuba’s Embassy in Washington did not respond to multiple requests for comment. President Raul Castro’s government denies involvement in the attacks, and is likely to view the move as unwarranted retaliation.
The U.S. also disclosed that the scope of the attacks has continued to grow, with a 22nd victim confirmed on Monday. In recent weeks the State Department had said there were 21 individuals “medically confirmed” to be affected by attacks that harmed their hearing, cognition, balance and vision, some with diagnoses as serious as brain injury.
The additional victim was attacked in January but wasn’t confirmed to have been affected until symptoms prompted a new medical re-evaluation, said the State Department official, who briefed reporters on a conference call on condition of anonymity.
Both the U.S. and Cuba will see their diplomatic staffing in their embassies drop to the lowest levels in years.
Before full diplomatic relations were restored in 2015, Cuba had about two-dozen accredited staffers at what was then the Cuban interests section, according to a State Department list. That number at times climbed as high as more than 50, and the latest edition of the U.S. “Diplomatic List” identifies 26 accredited Cubans at the embassy, almost all accompanied by spouses.
The removal of 15 will reduce the Cuban staffing to roughly a dozen accredited diplomats.
In Havana, the U.S. had roughly 54 diplomats in its embassy until deciding Friday to pull more than half of them out and leave behind only “essential personnel.” The departing Americans are expected to have all left Cuba by week’s end, officials said.
The Cuban diplomats being expelled will not be deemed “persona non grata,” officials said, a designation that would prevent them from ever returning to U.S. soil. The government often uses that designation to expel suspected foreign spies and ensure they can’t come back.
Lawmakers who had called on the Trump administration to expel all of Cuba’s diplomats applauded the move Tuesday. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and vocal critic of Castro’s government, called it “the right decision” in a Twitter post.
Yet U.S. officials said the goal wasn’t to punish the communist-run island, but to ensure both countries have a similar number of diplomats in each other’s capitals.
Tensions between the two neighbours have been escalating amid serious U.S. concern about the unexplained attacks.
On Monday, The Associated Press reported that U.S. spies were among the first and most severely affected victims. Though bona fide diplomats have also been affected, it wasn’t until intelligence operatives, working under diplomatic cover, reported bizarre sounds and even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong, several individuals familiar with the situation said.
The mysterious “health attacks” started within days of U.S. President Donald Trump’s election in November, the AP has reported.
Delivering a one-two punch to U.S.-Cuba relations, the U.S. last week also delivered an ominous warning to Americans to stay away from Cuba, a move that could have profound implications for the island’s travel industry. The U.S. said that since some workers had been attacked in Havana hotels, it couldn’t assure Americans who visit Cuba that they wouldn’t suffer attacks.
“Because our personnel’s safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe U.S. citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba,” the United States said in a formal travel warning.
Two years ago, Castro and former president Barack Obama restored diplomatic ties, ordered embassies re-opened and eased travel and commerce restrictions. Trump has reversed some changes but has broadly left the rapprochement in place.
To medical investigators’ dismay, symptoms have varied widely. In addition to hearing loss and concussions, some people have experienced nausea, headaches and ear-ringing. The AP has reported that some now suffer from problems with concentration and common word recall.
The incidents stopped for a time. They recurred as recently as late August.
U.S. gives Cuba 1 week to withdraw 15 diplomats after mysterious health attacks
Tom Petty, an old-fashioned rock superstar and everyman who drew upon the Byrds, the Beatles and other bands he worshipped as a boy and produced new classics such as “Free Fallin,’ “Refugee” and “American Girl,” has died. He was 66.
Petty died Monday night at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles a day after he suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, California, spokeswoman Carla Sacks said.
Petty and his longtime band the Heartbreakers had recently completed a 40th anniversary tour, one he hinted would be their last.
“I’m thinking it may be the last trip around the country,” Petty told Rolling Stone last year. “We’re all on the backside of our 60s. I have a granddaughter now I’d like to see as much as I can. I don’t want to spend my life on the road. This tour will take me away for four months. With a little kid, that’s a lot of time.”
Usually backed by the Heartbreakers, Petty broke through in the 1970s and went on to sell more than 80 million records. The Gainesville, Florida, native with the shaggy blond hair and gaunt features was loved for his melodic hard rock, nasally vocals and down-to-earth style. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted Petty and the Heartbreakers in 2002, praised them as “durable, resourceful, hard-working, likeable and unpretentious.”
“I’m shocked and saddened by the news of Tom’s passing, he’s such a huge part of our musical history, there’ll never be another like him.” Eric Clapton wrote in a statement.
Petty’s albums included Damn the Torpedoes, Hard Promises and Full Moon Fever, although his first No. 1 did not come until 2014 and Hypnotic Eye. As a songwriter, he focused often on daily struggles and the will to overcome them, most memorably on “Refugee,” “Even the Losers” and “I Won’t Back Down.”
“It’s sort of the classic theme of a lot of the work I’ve done,” he told The Associated Press in 1989. “I think faith is very important just to get through life. I think it’s really important that you believe in yourself, first of all. It’s a very hard to thing to come by. But when you get it, it’s invaluable.”
Petty didn’t just sing about not backing down, he lived it. In 1979, he was enraged when his record label was sold and his contract transferred. Stating that he would not be “bought and sold like a piece of meat,” he self-financed what became Damn the Torpedoes and declared bankruptcy rather than allowing his label, MCA, to release it. He eventually reached a new deal with MCA, for better terms. In the early 1980s, he was again at war with MCA, this time over the label’s plans to charge extra money, a dollar higher than the standard $8.98, for his album Hard Promises. He again prevailed.
Petty was both a musician and obsessive fan, one who met his childhood heroes and lived out the fantasies of countless young rock lovers. He befriended Byrds leader Roger McGuinn and became close to George Harrison, who performed on “I Won’t Back Down” and joined Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne in the impromptu super group the Traveling Wilburys. Petty inducted Harrison into the Rock Hall in 2004; two years earlier Dylan’s son Jakob inducted Petty. In the 1980s, Petty and the Heartbreakers supported Bob Dylan on a nationwide tour.
He would speak of being consumed by rock music since childhood, to the point where his father, whom Petty would later say beat him savagely, thought he was “mental.” Awed by the chiming guitars of the Byrds, the melodic genius of the Beatles and the snarling lyrics of Dylan, he was amazed to find that other kids were feeling the same way.
“You’d go and see some other kid whose hair was long, this was around ‘65, and go, ‘Wow, there’s one like me,’“ he told The Associated Press in 1989. “You’d go over and talk and he’d say, ‘I’ve got a drum set.’ ‘You do? Great!’ That was my whole life.”
By his early 20s, Petty had formed the group Mudcrutch with fellow Gainesville natives and future Heartbreakers (guitarist) Mike Campbell and (keyboardist) Benmont Tench. They soon broke up, but reunited in Los Angeles as the Heartbreakers, joined by bassist Ron Blair and drummer Stan Lynch. Their eponymous debut album came out in 1976 and they soon built a wide following, fitting easily into the New Wave sounds of the time.
The world changed more than Petty did over the past few decades. In 2014, around the time he received an ASCAP Founders Award, he told The Associated Press that he thought of himself as “kind of a music historian.”
“I’m always interested in the older music, and I’m still always discovering things that I didn’t know about,” he said. “To be honest, I really probably spend more time listening to the old stuff than I do the new stuff.”
Rock superstar Tom Petty dies at 66Rock superstar Tom Petty dies at 66Rock superstar Tom Petty dies at 66
Inmates need a better complaints process, more — and more direct — contact with their families, and prisoners who give birth should not be separated from their babies, says a wide-ranging report on transforming Ontario’s corrections system.
Howard Sapers, the independent adviser on corrections reform, also said the province needs to better track inmate strip searches, as well as any deaths that occur in provincial jails.
“Over 150 people have died in Ontario’s correctional institutions over the past decade,” says Sapers’ report, released at Queen’s Park on Tuesday. “The majority of deaths in custody in Ontario are not subject to a thorough, fully arms-length and independent review. Even where this does take place, the extent to which the findings lead to systemic reflection or change is limited.”
Last November, the then-minister of corrections minister ordered the independent review of Ontario jails.
Sapers is well regarded in corrections circles, after having served as Canada’s correctional investigator and inmate ombudsman for more than a decade. He was tasked with looking at ways to reduce the use of segregation, as well as how to improve the prison system overall.
In the spring, Sapers released an interim report that said solitary confinement should never be used for mentally ill prisoners, those who are pregnant or have just given birth. But he stopped short of banning the practice.
His final report makes 62 recommendations that he said will help to create a more humane, and human-rights based system.
Not all of the issues he looked at “are big and complex,” he said in his report. “Sometimes it is important to sweat the small stuff. Getting small problems fixed can help prevent big problems, or at the very least, mitigate the impacts of larger concerns.”
Improving family visits will help foster information sharing, and better policy around strip searches would improve staff-prisoner relations, the report says.
Sapers noted that across the country, and globally, correctional facilities “have put in place a range of measures to help facilitate family contact and support, including child-friendly play spaces, open visiting areas that allow for barrier-free interactions, private family visiting accommodations for longer stays, and mother-child programs that prevent the separation of mothers and young children.
“Ontario’s correctional institutions offer almost none of these opportunities. The vast majority of visits between inmates and their loved ones in Ontario are limited to 20- to 40-minute sessions during which visitors and inmates are physically separated by a barrier.”
Corrections Minister Marie-France Lalonde said the government is opening two new facilities with designs to reflect modern corrections practices, and also hire more staff.
Lalonde, acknowledging that work needs to be done, said more money will be spent, and that updated legislation will be tabled this fall.
“There will not be a ‘mission accomplished’ moment after which we can say the job is done,” Sapers told reporters. “Ensuring fair, safe and human corrections requires commitment every day.”
Last April, Lalonde also heard from the provincial ombudsman, who cited serious issues with segregation and how institutions across the province use different definitions making its use hard to track.
At that time, Paul Dubé warned that the highly publicized case of inmate Adam Capay — who spent four years in a windowless, solitary cell in a Thunder Bay jail while awaiting trial on murder charges — would, and is, happening in other jails. Lalonde said that report, and the two from Sapers, will inform provincial reforms, and she will address all the recommendations.
Ontario has 8,000 inmates in its jails, with an estimated 560 in segregation.
Segregation can be used for disciplinary purposes, as well as for inmate safety, but in cases of punishment is limited to 15 days in a row.
Ontario’s correctional system needs overhaul, report says